The Toymaker

Here we go.... back into the painting and straight into an elaborate fantasy.  During my bit-of-a-break I have been reading up on steampunk ideas and imagery.  So this is a cross between Blade Runner and Frankenstein.  One of the recurring themes in steampunk is the tinker or artificer who is constantly experimenting with devices, thus the idea of the goggles that infect steampunk fashion.  Having just spent the best part of my recent free time drilling holes in doors, goggles have been a central fixture of my personal weaponry.  Thus my next painting has to have goggles in it.  Yes, I am that simple.

How to turn this into a painting?  I have to fix these things: the background and context, what is being built, composition.  I decided that the object is to be a human-like robot.  Nothing novel there.  However, the angle here is that it is a personal toy being built.  So a little towards Ex Machina if I'm not careful.  The basics is the delight in tinkering.  I fancy an artistic android rather than a mess of wires, but let's make sure it is recognisably artificial.  The background I thought about for a while, but then threw out because I decided that to go for chiaroscuro to give lots of drama.  This means the background is going to be black.  I decided to compensate by adding items such as lamps at the sides of the painting to provide some context.

Acrylics on A2 paper (yes, it's an art evening again).  Killing the white (with black) first.  I put a bit of blue in as well because the foreground is going to hold various warm colours.  You really can't tell that from the photo can you?  You wouldn't have thought it would be so difficult to paint a piece of paper black.  I was really slapping the paint on.  I bet if I had done oils it would have covered no problem.  Anyway, being acrylics it dried in no time and I started sketching out the main pieces in light colours.  The first line at the bottom delineates the bench, and this was followed by a few nice lines to shape the android.  I then started on the goggle wearer staring into the heart of the machine.  The hands either side are holding implements for a bit of spot-welding thus the bright sparks in the middle that light the face up.  The face is bigger than I planned.  This might be a good thing: it makes the android more of a toy.  I might change my mind.  The instruments on the left and right are as yet rather poorly formed and will probably be changed completely - the composition still needs some work.

My plan for this evening: finish off the composition basics.  There are two weak points: the hands are too vague, but mainly the lamps and apparatus on the right hand side are not working.  Hands always need a bit more detail, but I want to get these right, particularly the size, before starting to firm up the images.  The lamps and stuff are more of an issue.  They flatten the image.  They look contrived.  So I have decided to arrange these artificer devices in a halo to provide that depth and to tie them into what is happening.

That was a bit of a waste of an evening.  I got as as far as the hands, and that was a struggle.  I have clearly taken too long a break from the painting.  I ended up redoing both hands several times, and I still haven't got the light on the right hand (the one on the left) right.  It was one of those evenings where my brush felt like an alien object.  My early attempts on the right hand were particularly dire.  However, instead of shouting loudly (done before) and repeatedly stabbing the paper with the backend of a brush (I'm still to try this out) I stepped back a bit and tried to disengage what I thought it should be, and the right hand came around eventually.  This is good enough now.

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